Westlake Rally Tuesday 5PM, march to City Hall Wed morning

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Occupy CEHKC (the Campaign to End Homelessness in King County) is having a rally in Westlake Plaza downtown Seattle from 5PM to 7PM. Members of SAFE will be attending as part of the coalition. Some will be occupying Westlake for the night.

Wednesday morning at 7:30AM members of Occupy CEHKC will march to City Hall from Westlake. SAFE will be present with our “Housing is a Human Right” banner.

500 homeless have died on the streets of our city since Occupy CEHKC began its vigil. There are more empty houses in Seattle than homeless sleeping on the streets of our city thanks to the banks displacement and this systematic economic disparity probably helped prompt Seattle to elect the first Socialist to the city council in a century. Time to standup and fight back.

The coalition’s demands are that Seattle:

1.) Stop evictions based on illegal foreclosures.

2.) Divest from Banks unfairly foreclosing on homeowners

3.) Increase Reduced Rate Bus Tickets

4.) Maintain Metro Bus Services

5.) Adopt Low Income Bus Fares

6.) Accelerate both the preservation & construction of affordable housing.

Members of Occupy CEHKC (pronounced “check”) are: SHARE, WHEEL, Nickelsville, Transit Riders Union, and SAFE. Learn more at: occupycehkc.org

Also on Friday, the campaign to save Jane’s home from Bank of America’s greed continues. Come to the north side of the Red Apple parking lot on North Beacon Hill at 4:30pm to protest the BofA at: 2555 Beacon Ave S

We have been hitting this bank up for the past 8 weeks as part of a direct action campaign to save a household from displacement only 2 blocks away. The home is still scheduled to be auctioned on Friday the 13th in December.

When We Fight, We Win!

Learn more at: SAFEinSeattle.org

Protest movements: how to make them more effective

I spoke with an activist from the 60s who said that change won’t come til there are massive protests like those that happened during the Civil Rights movement and the anti-war movement of the 60s.

She also said that the FBI and other government entities harassed protesters and infiltrated the movements, so don’t expect it to be pretty or painless now either.  Many African Americans put their lives on the line and were injured or killed to get their rights.

Occupy failed because not enough people supported it, because of violent government suppression, and perhaps because Occupy was too purist, anarchist, disorganized, and exclusive. They didn’t work with other lefty groups for fear of being co-opted.   Occupiers fought among themselves.

But if massive protest is what’s needed, there’s a big question: protest what? There are many things one could protest:  crazy Tea Party Republicans, the military and NSA, big banks, the Supreme Court, the Keystone XL Pipeline, TPP, Monsanto, Obama, the whole system? If the enemy is too broad, people won’t join in.

In an article in the Nation, Breaking Up With Occupy, Nathan Schnieder analyzes the precarious state of the Occupy Movement.  On the surface, Occupy seems to have failed, due to violent government retaliation and due to internal divisions and infighting. “Burn Occupy on a funeral pyre and move the fuck on,” said one activist. Some activists have now moved on to work at places like Google, where people actually get along and cooperate. (A corporation is a perfect example of organized cooperation!) Schneider writes:

Occupy is and was a test of the social psyche of American society, a measured action to measure the response of the American attitude toward change. Though many were not willing to step out of their comfort zone to join us, they internalized their support and used anonymous venues to support the cause. The people want the change presented by Occupy, however their survival mechanism kicked in and they feared for their lives, albeit more their livelihoods and social standing than anything else.

But maybe Occupy has entered a more effective, latent phase and will burst back on the scene. That’s the theory of the late antinuclear activist Bill Moyer (different from Backbone Campaign’s person of the same name). “Most activists in past social movements believed at the time that their movement was failing,” he said.  “Occupy is by no means over, it is just another iteration of an ever evolving conscious state of the human condition.”

One suggestion for Anarchists: maybe name your ideology something more appealing like Cooperativism.  Even Libertarianism (a close cousin to Anarchism) sounds better.

Beacon Hill and Bank of America

SAFE: Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction

Commentary by Bryce Phillips (a SAFE Member)

SAFE’s roots are in the Occupy movement which emerged in 2011. The roots of SAFE can also be found in struggles of workers and the unemployed in the 1930s, where eviction blockades and move back-ins were common. There was a moratorium on bank evictions in 25 states and struggles for civil rights, racial and gender equality, free speech, protecting the environment, and peace that continue to this day. It can be found in the movement to confront the World Trade Organization, and the increasing unchecked power of corporations and financial institutions over our lives. SAFE is directly inspired and informed by the struggle of City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston for the rights of tenants and “bank tenants”— those of us who pay our hard earned money to the parasitic banks to continue to live in our homes.

The Occupy movement exploded worldwide in a matter of days, it was a great spectacle that challenged the oppressive status quo in the streets and in the realm of ideas. The scope was enormous and the location, goals, and direction rather vague. There was an exciting but unrealistic sense that we could change the world overnight by sheer outpouring of emotion. It was a spark that burned bright but burned out quick. SAFE emerged from the embers as an organization dedicated to the long, arduous task of waging the battle on a daily basis. Confronting the biggest threat to our communities—especially on Beacon Hill in Seattle where SAFE began—displacement.

The vision is to come together and build community in our communities amongst a great diversity of race, ethnicity, age, religion, and to organize a spirited defense of that community from the forces that seek to destroy it. Jane Jin Mair came to Beacon Hill from China where she fought for human rights and marched in Tiananmen Square. As the only English-speaker in her family, she manages the finances—that of her sister and mother. Bank of America has exploited and taken advantage of Jane’s family at every turn, harassing them with phone calls, losing their paperwork, and trying to take away the home they have worked so hard for. Those “bloodsuckers” as Jane aptly describes them, have no right! BofA happens to have a branch located only a block away from the home of Jane’s sister right on North Beacon Hill. This is exactly the kind of fight SAFE was made for!

On a daily basis, working people in the Beacon Hill community come to that Bank of America to deposit their paychecks and probably to have confusing and infuriating conversations about their accounts and mortgages as well—in a word to get ripped off. Even most of the bank employees know the fraud and duplicity of their employer, they see it firsthand. Beacon Hill has been waiting for a fighter like Jane and an organization like SAFE to lead the way. This is where real community organizing takes place. Are things going on in legislatures and courts important, yes, it is at the community level however where the big changes take place. Across America and in Seattle in particular, there is a crisis of displacement from the city. Thousands of homes sit empty, more than even the growing amount of people sleeping on the streets.

Rents jump as much as 40 percent in a single year while the City of Seattle tears down a livable housing project that served those in need since the 1930’s to make way for yet another playground of wealthy developers. Will Seattle be a city of walkable, livable, diverse communities we find on Beacon Hill, or will it become a soulless corporate office park and upscale shopping mall? We will be putting Bank of America on notice! If they wish to continue doing business in this community they need to stop destroying it! Join us; together we can create a livable community one neighborhood at a time!

UPCOMING ACTIONS

Wednesday Sept. 25th 2:00 PM – Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee Meeting – Chair Nick Licata and all the committee members need to hear our battles, demands and solutions. Show up at 1:45 to sign up for public testimony; each person gets 2 minutes. This week’s agenda, click here. Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall, Floor 2, 600 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104. Meeting is held every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.

Thursday Sept. 26th 4:00 PM – Chase Picket for Alton and Demand Delivery in West Seattle at the Junction. Contact Sonia Hoglander for more information Sonia@HomEvo.com

Friday Sept. 27th 4:00 PM – Beacon Hill Picket at BofA for Jane – meet at Red Apple on Beacon Hill at 4PM. We will be picketing BofA for 45 minutes. Contact Bryce Phillips for more information. brycetphillips@gmail.com

SAVE the Date, Oct 26th – Halloween Party – This is to celebrate our successes. We are chasing out the ghosts and goblins of the banking industry. Let us shine the magical light of truth on the shadow economy and take back the power for the people. They lock their doors, they flail about trying to quiet our voices, they are indignant that we fight back AND WE are RIGHT! Those moments, those looks on their faces are better than any costume we could dream up. They are losing and we are the champions of the world! More details to come! Sheri bottom-lining; contact her to help. mamakin12.sp@gmail.com

THIS PAST WEEK

Lobbying Training Friday Sept. 6th – Nancy Amidei gave training on how to Lobby, this was amazingly informative and on the heels of Strategic Planning will help us formulate a comprehensive plan of attack. Eminent Domain, Eviction Moratorium, Principle Reduction, Debt Forgiveness, whatever, you gotta know the game to win the game.

September 11th – Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee Meeting – Washington CAN (Reset Seattle) and SAFE filled the chambers to give testimony regarding foreclosure and eviction travesties in the Seattle area. Cornell University law school professor Robert Hockett delivered the astounding report about the state of housing in Seattle, “Post-Bubble Foreclosure-Prevention and -Mitigation Options in Seattle” pdf

September 13th – Demand Delivery for Alton who is suing Chase for non-good faith negotiation during mediation. Document & Demand Delivery for Jane fighting for fairness with BofA. We delivered with great gusto at both locations, Beacon Hill was especially busy this Friday afternoon, many took notice; even tellers gave us the fist up approval. Chase at Othello Station is a good place for a future Banner Drop for rush hour commuters. Follow up pickets are scheduled for the 26th (Alton) and 27th (Jane).

COME TO OUR WEEKLY MEETING

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St). All are welcome! This is where we bring new participants and have free attorneys available from time to time. Find out what SAFE is about and what we are working on. Our objective is to end bank evictions through mutual aid and direct action with homeowners/bank tenants that are fighting the banks to stay in their homes. This is the first step to getting involved!

Angeline Thomas from Seattle University Law School will with us on the 8th to answer questions.

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS

You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org .

Without government, we'd be hunter-gatherers

According to the Pulitzer Prize winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, the transition from a society based on hunter-gathering  to a modern state progressed hand-in-hand with the development of agriculture.  Government protections and laws enabled trade, storage, and distribution systems. Surpluses resulting from agriculture funded government.   Farm labor could be enlisted for government projects and wars.  Government is needed both to protect private property and for the common good. Trade, specialization, wide distribution of resources, and public safety were some of the benefits of government.

Rousseau’s theory of the social contract held that people form governments when they freely and presciently realize that banding together and agreeing to subordinate their selfish aims to the greater good would raise everyone’s standard of living and well-being.  But Diamond suggests that Rousseau’s theory is a fantasy.  In reality, smaller groups of people (bands, villages, tribes, city states, etc) amalgamated into larger units under pressure of war (by being invaded) or under threat of war.

But even though Rousseau’s theory of the social contract is probably untrue, it is nonetheless true, says Diamond, that there was a form of “group selection” [my term] among political units: larger, organized groups out-competed the more primitive, disorganized groups.   This was true both economically and in terms of warfare.

Furthermore, post facto, now that we have government, social contract arguments can be used to justify government, I believe.

Of course, the development of government wasn’t all for the good: oftentimes political leaders used government to enrich themselves, oppress the masses, and wage war.  Oftentimes nations develop religions or patriotic ideologies that are used to convince or frighten the people into obedience.

In addition to the benefits that accrue from government and agriculture, there is another factor that explains the rise of the modern state. People who lived in crowded communities, and in close proximity to domesticated animals, were forced to develop resistance to diseases. (Hence the “germs” part of Diamond’s title.)  When Europeans invaded and colonized other continents, they brought along contagious diseases which often decimated the local populations.

Diamond refutes another myth associated with Rousseau: the myth of the noble savage. In fact, most primitive cultures were quite violent, with many murders and many battles among neighboring groups.

I raised these issues of the historical origins of government because of the naive, Rousseau-inspired fantasies of anarchists and extreme libertarians, who imagine that without a (strong) central government we can maintain our quality of life. See Countering anti-government propaganda and Are Occupiers aiding Grover Norquist?.

Anarchism and Libertarianism

The May 13, 2013 issue of The New Yorker has an article by Kelefa Sanneh about anarchism, Paint Bombs: David Graeber’s “The Democracy Project” and the anarchist revival.  Marx envisioned an eventual classless, anarchist society, but to achieve it, he believed the workers must first seize the state and transform it. Anarchists such as Graeber reject such “authoritarian socialism,” which led to the repressions of the USSR and Maoist China.  Modern day anarchists, who were influential in the Occupy Movement, want a more direct transition to a horizontal, non-hierarchical society. But, says, Sanneh: “For anarchists, the major historical precursors [examples of successful, modern anarchic societies] are so fleeting as to be nearly non-existent: the Paris Commune lasted scarcely two months, in 1871; anarchists dominated Catalonia for about a year, after the Spanish revolution in 1936.”

What the Occupy Movement prefigured is an organic, non-hierarchical, localist form of society, “a kind of decentralized socialism, with decisions made by a patchwork of local assemblies and cooperatives.” The disorganization of Occupy, and its refusal to agree to “demands” and declarations, are seen as a feature, not a bug, of the movement.  The fact that the movement dissolved, under the pressure of infighting, as well as substantial police suppression, calls into question the viability of such disorganized entities.  Like it or not, organization works.  Consider the success of corporations, which are highly organized, and the success of nations like Singapore, which combined capitalism with strong central planning, industrial policy, and law-making from a central (indeed, repressive) government.

Like libertarians on the right, Graeber argues that economic inequality is mostly due to the state’s actions in support of oppressors.

Sanneh draws the connection between anarchist Occupiers and the libertarian-inspired Tea Party.  Though the Occupy Movement fizzled when it became clear that its effect on electoral politics would be minimal, “there is one anarchist would who could be considered influential in Washington… His name is Murray Rothbard, and among small-government Republicans, he is something of a cult hero.”  Rothbard was an anarcho-capitalist.  In contrast, many Occupiers are anarcho-socialists.

Anarcho-capitalists acknowledge and celebrate human greed and creativity, and think that in a free market (free from the interfering regulations and corruptions of the state), just distribution of wealth will emerge — or at least, as good a distribution of wealth as can be achieved by us imperfect humans. “Without government, people will .. be just as creative or greedy or competent as we are now, only freer.  Instead of imagining a world without drastic inequality, anarcho-capitalists imagine a world where people and their property are secured by private defense agencies, which are paid to keep the peace.”

Sounds like Somalia with its warlords, to me.

I suppose anarcho-capitalists think that the cure (government) is worse than the disease (greed, anarchy).

Anarcho-socialists acknowledge human greed but think that humans can be perfected, so that everyone will treat others with respect, and people can cooperate freely and locally without hierarchy.   I admit: I’ve read some articles about anarchism but I  just don’t “get” it. It seems unrealistic to me, especially given the need for government to provide a counter-weight to corporations, which won’t be disappearing any time soon (barring catastrophe), and to provide for services such as education, public health, research, and public transportation.

Of course, most libertarians are not anarchists. Most libertarians believe in minimal government (sufficient to provide for policing to protect private property and little else).  Similarly, most leftists in America aren’t anarchists either.   My hope is to make clear the need for a mixture of private and public power.

Even Graeber supports socialized medicine and the taxes to pay for it.   Sanneh teases Graeber for protesting against government budget cuts and for taxation: an anarchist wanting bigger government.

I thank Political Science Prof. Mark A. Smith of the University of Washington, who recommended that I check out Diamond’s ideas.

Independent Report on May Day Critical of Seattle Police

Youtube video of news report here:
MTC FSRN Report_0001

Originally broadcast April 4, 2013 @ Free Speech Radio News on the Pacifica Network.
FSRN broadcasts on 110 stations globally!

Link to news report @ FSRN:
News Report For Free Speech Radio News on the Pacifica Network fsrn.org pacifica.org

Reporter: Mark Taylor-Canfield

“Seattle’s city council questioned the police chief on Wednesday, about his handling of last year’s May Day protests, in which eight people were arrested. An independent review of the protests found that the Seattle Police Department failed to practice adequate crowd control and officers were confused by conflicting orders. FSRN’S Mark Taylor-Canfield has more.”

“Authored by former Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Michael Hillmann, the review focuses on the policing of a small independent march. On May Day 2012 demonstrators broke off from the main march and damaged property in downtown Seattle. Officers reported that they were given conflicting orders on how to engage protesters and make arrests. Hillman claims that police activity on May Day ‘significantly damaged the credibility of the Police Department’. In particular Hillman found that fellow officers criticized Assistant Police Chief Mike Sanford’s decision to enter a crowd of protesters alone to make an arrest. They told how Sanford then had to be rescued by other police officers.”

“The review also points out that Seattle Police officers have not received any new training on crowd control since demonstrations against the World Trade Organization took place in Seattle in 1999. The department’s handling of those protests was also widely criticized. At the time of the May Day protest the Seattle Police Department was under a US Dept of Justice investigation for use of excessive force. A federal grand jury is also currently investigating the protests.”

“Mark Taylor-Canfield, FSRN, Seattle.”

Bloomberg reports that Wall Street banks are profitable because of taxpayer handouts

“It’s nice to see Bloomberg finally getting on board with the Occupy Wall Street message that the big banks are raiding our economy.” (from DailyKos)

Bloomberg reports:  Why Should Taxpayers Give Big Banks $83 Billion a Year?

 

 

Weapons of Mass Distraction – Freedom of the Press? US Activists and Journalists Face Surveillance

By Mark Taylor-Canfield

(From Mark’s  Syndicated Monthly Column – “Weapons of Mass Distraction”)

Thank you to the editors for allowing me to tell the truth without censorship! Here’s another of my honest efforts to do just that. I only hope this piece doesn’t get me into trouble with my own publishers at other websites and/or the folks who control social media networks.

let’s face it, in the land of the free and the brave the press has suffered from corporate media consolidation and lack of funding for alternative media. Witness the recent demise of the progressive national radio network Air America. Many of those broadcasters are still lamenting their lack of access to the national airwaves, so many of them have gone to the web and started their own shows, sometimes livestreaming from their own bedrooms or basements. Al Gore’s experiments in alternative news coverage went under and was purchased by Al Jazeera, prompting numerous outraged remarks by right-wing pundits who accuse the cable network of being disloyal to America.

Reality check: Reporters Without Borders ranks the US as 47th on the world press freedom index. This number represents a slip from 19th in previous years. According to RWB this drop in status is a result of the arrests of journalists at Occupy Wall Street protests. It is a well known fact among occupiers that live video streamers have been targeted, raided and arrested by police at major OWS events around the country, including demonstrations in New York City during the OWS anniversary, and in Chicago during protests at the NATO summit last year.

Although freedom of the press is protected by the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, it appears that the “fourth estate” has been placed under duress while trying to report major political news stories.

The latest insult to press freedom is the story of Shannon McLeish, a journalist and broadcaster from Daytona Beach, Florida. In December 2012, Shannon says she found out through Freedom of Information Act documents that her name is included on a “terrorist watch list.” Except for Chris Hedge’s column @ Truthdig or my own article @ Truthout, this story is not being reported by the national media.

A recent guest on Shannon’s radio program was Noam Chompsky. (Disclaimer: I have also been a guest on “AIr Occupy”.) I found the broadcasting crew to be authentic, altruisitic advocate journalists trying to get at the truth about what’s happening around the world and in this nation. Recent shows featured guests who discussed fracking, attacks on the power of labor unions and the civil rights implications of the National Defense Authorization Act. According to Liz Myers, co-host of  the “Air Occupy” program, Youtube deleted their channel after they did the program on the NDAA. Youtube claimed the program had “violated community standards” but apparently they presented no specific complaint.

Add to this information the fact that at least a few other US activists have had their Twitter accounts deleted, and some folks have been banned from posting on any Facebook sites besides their own. The irony of indy activists using corporate owned social media platforms is not lost on me. Try criticizing Facebook or Twitter and see how long it takes to attract their attention. These are profit motivated websites – commercial enterprises that do not necessarily support freedom of political expression. One man banned from Twitter claims his account  was deleted after he tweeted a statement made by Indian non-violence advocate Mahatma Gandhi!

I came within a hair’s breadth of being banned from writing at Daily Kos after I wrote an article about Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Luckily, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas decided not to allow me to be ostracized by outraged Democratic Party readers. The Democrats reminded me that Daily Kos is a pro Democratic Party website that is not interested in articles about the Greens. Obviously many Democrats still see the Green Party as a threat to their vote counts and they still blame Ralph Nader for the election of George W. Bush. Of course the editors have the right to choose the topics on their website, but I must admit I felt I had been censored. I can no longer write about the Greens at Daily Kos without running the risk of banishment. The site which Time magazine readers voted as “2nd best blog” in the US is not a completely open forum for discussion.

Besides the fears of banishment and government surveillance, reporters also have to face the very real threat of legal retribution from social network sites if they are courageous enough to criticize their policies. Calling Facebook or twitter “undemocratic” will not win you the admiration or respect of the administrators or owners. I will admit that I am very careful what I post these days. I was banned by Facebook from posting anywhere but on my own website for two months allegedly due to “spamming” activity. The truth is, I posted many political articles on sites around the world which are dedicated to politics and activism. I have never tried to recruit anyone for a campaign; I have never offered anything for sale; I have never endorsed any commercial enterprise.

And now, in an ironic turn of events, I may qualify as a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed against Facebook. The suit claims that FB included user’s posts and photographs in their ads without permission from the authors and photographers. By the way, Facebook completely denies this claim.

I take these issues very seriously because last year I won a major federal class action lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol after I was illegally detained and banned from covering protests at the state capitol in Olympia. Federal District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan ruled in my favor. According to his decision, the WSP had violated my freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Now I am corresponding with Reporters Without Borders, the Committee To Protect Journalists, and the Society For Professional Journalism. My task – document these abuses!

To me it really comes down to a simple question: “Should US journalists be proud and satisfied with their status in society at this time?” As I have stated in my article at Truthout, these restrictions (along with the perceived harassment and threats) has silenced some editors, publishers, producers and reporters who are now afraid to cover controversial stories. I maintain that the result is self-censorship from folks who don’t want to lose their jobs or find their names on a government watch list.

Just a reminder – my favorite journalists Greg Palast, Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges have been forced to give up lucrative positions at major US media corporations in order to report the truth without restrictions. Palast now does investigative journalism for the BBC and Greenwald writes for the UK Guardian. It’s amazing that we still have a few strong independent voices left in this country – Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill, Aaron Glantz and Arun Gupta, Matt Taibbi to name a few who deserve our praise for standing up against the establishment at a time when doing so could be very detrimental to both your psychological and financial health…

Mark Taylor-Canfield writes @ Huffington Post and Daily Kos.
https://www.facebook.com/mtaylorcanfield
https://twitter.com/MTaylorCanfield

His Op-ed @ Truthout – Press freedom?

http://truth-out.org/speakout/item/14145-us-alternative-media-journalists-face-government-surveillance

Mark’s Testimony Before The FCC – Effects of Corporate Media Consolidation

http://www.reclaimthemedia.org/seattlefcc/taylor-canfield

Mark’s Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/11/29/1040971/-My-Arrest-At-The-Demonstrations-A-Personal-Statement-About-The-First-Amendment

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/12/06/judge-rules-in-favor-of-occupy-protesters-suspends-trespassing-notices